Emotionally-charged disputes are common among many spouses, couples, and family members. In some cases, these disputes go too far, and individuals suffer injury, threats of injury, sexual assault, or stalking. Victims of domestic abuse should contact a Chattanooga order of protection lawyer for help if they fear for their safety or have been assaulted.
Orders of protections often come up in the context of divorce or paternity cases and can protect children of the parties, as well. If you are experiencing abuse or threats of violence at the hands of a spouse, partner, or loved one, you may wish to consult a family lawyer for advice about your options.
Orders of protection are court orders that threaten severe legal consequences to those who commit acts of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and stalking against specific persons, and individuals are eligible to file for an order of protection if they have a particular relationship with their alleged abusers. Under Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-3-601, these relationships include adults or minors who are:
These individuals may file for an order of protection against others if they are in these relationships, and one or more of the following types of abuse has occurred:
Incidents of sexual assault or stalking also may make individuals eligible to file for an order of protection under state law. An order of protection lawyer in Chattanooga may be able to assist individuals in determining whether they are eligible for an order of protection based on their circumstances.
If grounds exist, the Court will issue an Ex Parte or Temporary Order of Protection which lasts 15 days or until a hearing is held. After the hearing, the Court can enter an Order of Protection which lasts for a period of one year. These orders last for 15 days or until a court hearing is held on requests for EPOs.
Judges can put TPOs into place without notifying the alleged abuser first. Courts cannot issue EPOs, however, until they hold a full court hearing with both parties present. EPOs can last longer, up to one year, and include a broader range of protections than TPOs.
Under Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-3-606, orders of protection include various provisions that direct the alleged abusers to refrain from committing or threatening to commit domestic abuse, sexual assault, and stalking. These orders also prohibit offenders from contacting abuse victims, granting the victims possession of a shared residence, or requiring the abusers to provide suitable alternate housing for victims. Provisions for possession of any animals owned by the parties or their children could also be included in the order of protection.
In the context of parties who share minor children, an order of protection sets forth temporary custody and visitation rights to the children. To further support the victim and any children, a judge may order that the abuser financially assist the protected parties, but only if the parties are married or paternity is established.
Courts must issue orders of protection for a fixed period that is no more than one year in length. However, courts retain the right to modify these orders on a showing of a change in circumstances warranting modification by either party.
If a party to an order of protection files for divorce, the order of protection shall remain in place until the divorce court modifies, dissolves it, or makes it part of a divorce decree. In the case of either modification or incorporation into a divorce decree, the court must issue a separate order of protection.
Domestic abuse concerns should never go unreported or unaddressed. If you fear for your safety or that of your children, you may need to talk to a Chattanooga order of protection lawyer. Although breaking free from an abusive relationship is challenging, an order of protection may be able to facilitate that process.